If the Warriors win Game 7 in Calgary, it is expected that they would open their conference semi-final series against Brandon at home. The Wheat Kings won’t be able to play in their building, so Games 1 and 2 are expected to be played in the Civic Centre Friday and Saturday with Games 3-5 in Brandon in a 2-3-1-1 format.
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The Warriors have won only two of their last eight home playoff games. Before their loss in Game 5 they had won four straight playoff games in the Saddledome dating back to 2008.
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The Warriors are 1-1 in Game 7s. They lost 7-3 to Brandon in 2003 and won 3-1 in Calgary in 2006.
The Calgary game when Troy Brouwer returned early from his knee injury. Playoff hero Steven Gillen scored the game-winner short-handed in the third period as he ripped a shot past Justin Pogge.
While the 03 game in Brandon was anti-climactic (the Wheat Kings took a 6-1 lead) it followed a memorable Game 6 in the Civic Centre as Petr Jelinek’s overtime winner prolonged the series and gave the Warriors a 7-6 lead. The Warriors trailed early and often in that one as both goalies were pulled before all was said and done. That Game 6 with Brandon is still one of the most memorable playoff contests in Warriors history in my time in Moose Jaw.
The Hitmen are 3-3 in Game 7s. Their last one was in 2007 in the first round against Kootenay. The Hitmen won that game 3-2 in overtime as former Warrior Ian Duval scored. Current Hitmen co-captain Michael Stone played in that game and Martin Jones was their back-up goalie.
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A big key for the Warriors all season has been having their top three lines going. When the Honejsek-Rowinski-Hood line is spending time in the opposition’s end good things happen. Saturday the Bast line was on the ice for all three goals for and the Smuk checking line had a good night (if Brandon Kozun is held pointless, it’s a good night for the Smuk line no matter what else happens). The same couldn’t be said for the second line.
With Quinton Howden back on the top line with Bast and Frazee and Nathan MacMaster and Danny Gayle both playing well, there could be some tinkering done to the Honejsek-Rowinski-Hood line. If any of those players aren’t on their game, Hunchak may well insert Gayle or MacMaster. The pair deserve some ice time and Hunchak won’t likely tinker with the Bast line or the Smuk line. If the second line is going, Bast may double shift and centre Gayle and MacMaster once in awhile.
The bottom line is that Hunchak hasn’t been happy with the Honejsek-Rowinski-Hood combination and they will be on a short leash in Game 7.
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Former Warriors Kyle Fecho and Lee Zalasky were part of the University of Alberta Golden Bears team that lost the CIS final Sunday to St. Mary’s University in overtime.
Speaking of university hockey, the Univ. of Denver Pioneers — who have former Warrior draft pick Adam Murray on their roster — just bowed out of the NCAA tournament. Denver was stunned in the first round at the East regional by the Rochester Institute of Technology 2-1.
Murray, a 19-year-old goalie from Anchorage, Alaska, spent the season backing up Marc Cheverie who had an outstanding midget AAA career with Notre Dame. The Pioneers feature NHL prospects like Joe Colborne and Patrick Wiercioch.